Singapore Cell-Based Milk Maker TurtleTree Snags $30M in Series A

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TurtleTree, the Singapore-based startup growing milk in labs, has raised $30 million in the first tranche of its Series A. The round, which marks one of the largest capital injections in Asia’s cellular agriculture sector to date, was led by Verso Capital, and will be used to fuel TurtleTree’s scale up and launch its first consumer products. 

TurtleTree’s $30 million round puts it in good company. The funding is led by Verso Capital, the Luxembourg-based firm that has also backed Impossible Foods and Eat Just. TurtleTree’s raise, however, marks one of the largest sums invested in Asia’s cell-based food sector to date. 

The Series A round also brought in funding from “investors worldwide”, TurtleTree says, which brings its total capital raised to more than $40 million. In December 2020, the Singapore startup secured $6.2 million in a Pre-A round, which saw Hong Kong’s Green Monday Ventures and Prince Khaled’s KBW Ventures among its backers. 

Scaling cell-based milk 

TurtleTree says the funds will be used to expand its biotech platform, increase its R&D efforts, and scale its cell-based milk production ahead of launching its first commercial product. 

The company, which currently stands as Asia’s only startup cell-culturing dairy and human breast milk, and one of few global players disrupting infant nutrition alongside Biomilq and Helaina, recently announced its plan to commercialise its first product within 12-18 months. 

In June, TurtleTree revealed that its first product will be a cultured human lactoferrin, an immune-boosting component used in infant milk formulas and traditionally derived from cow’s milk.

“We are incredibly touched by the degree of faith all our investors have placed in TurtleTree and our unique vision of food,” shared CEO Fengru Lin. “The Series A funds will allow us to scale up our processes and come a huge step closer to creating a new era of sustainable nutrition.”

“The funding received has truly opened up a new world of possibility. We can now set our sights on turning ambitions to reality,” added chief strategy officer Max Rye. 

Rooting in the U.S.

Rye continued to say that the Series A funds will enable TurtleTree to focus on its next stage of growth, which will “start with our U.S.-based expansion plans and then moving on to the development and manufacture of our first consumer-ready products.”

To that end, the company has already established a Sacramento-based R&D facility, where it will kickstart manufacturing of its cultivated milk product portfolio. It has teamed up with North Carolina startup Solar Biotech, a scale-up platform for synbio companies, to use its 100% solar-powered biomanufacturing tech to scale and bring costs down. 

Commenting on the decision to back TurtleTree, Verso Capital managing partner Julien Machot said that the company has a “unique positioning” in the industry. 

“We are confident in TurtleTree’s potential as a cell-based technology platform that will transform the food industry,” he continued. “Verso Capital will share its wealth of knowledge in corporate finance and operations to help the company validate its unit economics and the overall business plan with its very first key accounts.”


All images courtesy of TurtleTree.


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